Virtual Reality Panel at London Tech Week
During London Technology Week – a live event series celebrating the city's tech innovation industries (June 15-21) – innovation charity Nesta hosted a panel presentation on the future of virtual reality (VR).
Ready Player Two? Bringing Virtual Reality Dreams to Life explored what makes VR experiences truly compelling – acknowledging that realism will play a big role for factual content such as news coverage, but perhaps won't matter as much in entertainment and storytelling.
Rob Morgan is a games writer and narrative designer from the UK who has previously worked on Sony's Harry Potter Wonderbook augmented reality games. Noting that storytelling is a powerful immersion tool in itself, he said that creating a sense of presence that allows users to believe they've been physically transported into a realistic world as the protagonist is secondary to telling an engrossing story.
"If you have a good story, hyperrealism is no longer so important. Just because we're creating an immersive experience, doesn't mean we can't have a strong fictional protagonist." Morgan believes that immersion is about emotion, not realism.
Zillah Watson, editor on the BBC's Research & Development Internet and Future Services Team, agreed with these thoughts on storytelling craft, saying that "a filmed VR is currently nowhere near as immersive as a created one".
However, Watson also said that in the future, factual content in particular stands to gain from advances in realistic representation in VR. "We are concentrating on stories that can't really be told as well through a 16:9 frame. A sense of presence is going to help the audience to better empathise with the subject and understand the world they are in."
For more current immersive VR experiences, see our coverage from Tribeca Film Festival.